Manufacturer POS Systems for Tactical Businesses

Are you using a manufacturer point of sale marketing program? Here are four reasons why you should be.

Manufacturer POS Systems for Tactical Businesses

photo by Bill Konway

Point of sale (POS) marketing programs and materials are meant to drive additional sales at the point of sale — namely, when a customer is in line or at the register, ready to purchase something else. Point of sale is, in essence, a last attempt to put a message in front of a customer to convince them to purchase whatever additional product or service is being offered in the moment, when the customer presumably has already decided to purchase something else. In this context, point of sale programs aim to capitalize on the customer mindset that, since he or she is already spending money, perhaps it will be easier to spend a bit more, albeit on lower-cost items.

Point of sale programs are popular at most brick-and-mortar retail environments. It’s most flagrant in grocery stores — think of the checkout aisles loaded with magazines, candy and gum, and dozens of trinkets so readily available to add to a cart. But it’s also offered in virtually every other type of store, too. Stores offering outdoor gear or sports equipment often do it with displays or tables near the checkout area offering smaller items for sale — water bottles, gloves, whistles, small tools — things a customer would likely not make a trip to a store for, but would consider on the way out when purchasing something else.

However, point of sale isn’t just a brick-and-mortar phenomenon; it occurs in online sales as well. Sometimes, when checking out virtually, a pop up or sidebar ad may show up with a special offer — “customers also bought this...” or “special deal today when you combine with...” In the virtual environment, retailer offers are based on actual sales data or other algorithms and thus may have the benefit of being more successful than similar brick-and-mortar efforts.

In either a traditional, brick-and-mortar environment or a virtual/online environment, POS programs have their place in the retail mix. In fact, in an effort to make it easier for retailers, many manufacturers offer prepackaged point of sale programs and materials. These may include recommended products or services, marketing materials such as signage or brochures, or other collateral and suggestions for timing, placement and so on. Most of the time, the manufacturers have done their homework; they generally know what works and what doesn’t. In any retail environment, however, it’s just as important to know your customer and to cater to his or her shopping preferences. In some cases, point of sale isn’t effective. Here are four reasons to use manufacturer point of sale marketing in your retail store.


1: When your customers ask about the types of products or services offered in a point of sale marketing program.

This is the easiest and most obvious reason to implement a point of sale marketing program in your store and it goes something like this: Customers checking out ask, almost on a whim, if you have any of this or that available, and the “this or that” seems to follow a consistent theme or pattern — usually it’s a product or service supporting the main product or service they’re buying. Firearms buyers might ask about ammo or cleaning kits. Body armor and protective gear buyers might ask about storage solutions. Optics or sight buyers might ask about extra batteries or other power solutions. Knife buyers might ask about sharpening solutions. In tactical retail, it’s easy to make product and service connections like this — interpersonally as you and your sales staff discuss a purchase with a customer or perhaps using a point of sale marketing program.

The key is to listen to your customers. The handful that speak up and ask about supporting products or services probably means there are many others who would benefit from the visual reminders and prompts offered through a point of sale marketing program.


2: When brand loyalty isn’t that big of a deal.

When it comes to big-ticket items, brand loyalty usually is a big deal. But when it comes to products and services to support that big-ticket purchase, brand loyalty may be less important. Customers who purchase big-ticket items likely have done their research and, for the most part, decided on what brand they’ll purchase long before they ever enter your store. They likely haven’t, however, deliberated or researched as much on the supporting products or services. As such, they’re not as sold on the brand. And while product quality and performance is critical, even in supporting products and services, customers likely are more open to deciding on and purchasing these at the point of sale.

It doesn’t mean the supporting products or services aren’t important. They are. It does mean you can feel more free to introduce multiple brands of a supporting product or service at the point of sale. After all, the customers actually need the supporting products or services, and they’ve already committed to buying the big-ticket item. Their brand loyalty need has been met. So it’s truly informative to bring them some options for fulfilling additional legitimate needs.


3: When you have enough physical space.

Manufacturer point of sale marketing programs can take a variety of forms. Counter displays, floor displays, shelf signage, posters (and more) provide many options for informing and persuading customers to add this or that to their purchase before they leave the store. The problem is that manufacturers can only guess what kind of physical space you have in which to display these items, so they’re created generically enough to fit most retail environments. Granted, most retail environments do have some kind of counter area, floor space, shelf space, and so on. But at times, you can only choose one or two options and hope these fit and otherwise don’t compete with other content or other point of sale materials in your store.

The question is not “how much space is enough space?” Rather, ask yourself what point of sale materials will truly help your customers and your bottom line and how will you maximize the space you have with the point of sale materials you decide to put on display. Put another way, just because you have access to point of sale marketing materials doesn’t mean you should put them out in your store. Floor, shelf and counter space is precious and should be reserved for only the most successful materials.

Further, all point of sale marketing materials have limited use. Promotional events have time constraints, promotional materials wear down, and customers can even get used to seeing the same materials over and over again, mentally disregarding them over time. As such, you may need to rotate point of sale marketing materials through your store periodically, just to keep things fresh.


4: When the marketing materials are excellent.

Assuming the criteria of items 1, 2 and 3 are all being met, a fourth reason to use manufacturer point of sale marketing materials is when they are excellent — well-designed and accurate.

Accurate means exactly that. Mistakes sometimes slip through, but there’s no excuse for putting inaccurate information in front of a customer. So if any part of any point of sale marketing materials are wrong, don’t put it out. It’ll just create confusion and frustration. Never mark up inaccurate materials by hand or tape over them or otherwise try to correct them.

Well-designed means it effectively communicates a key message to a customer — showing key benefits with simple, clear graphics and text. Moreover, if there are multiple parts to the point of sale marketing materials, they all clearly connect to one another with a consistent theme or look, and each can stand alone if needed.

Finally, ask your customers and your staff to weigh in on all of this. When a customer is in the checkout line, regardless of whether they’ve purchased a supporting product or service, ask them (if you don’t know) if they noticed the point of sale materials in the store. If they didn’t, ask why and listen for clues in their answer, such as “It was difficult to see because there’s so much other stuff” or “I guess I mostly tune out of that kind of stuff when I’m here.” When talking with your sales staff, ask if customers mentioned the point of sale materials and whether it created a natural means of introducing a product or service or steering a conversation. Listen for clues such as “I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this shelf sign” or “A few customers asked about my experience with this brand.” In many cases, manufacturer point of sale marketing materials can create a helpful connection to a customer experience, resulting in a sale. But you won’t know until you’re watching or listening for it. And that’s the point.



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